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Chiefs coach Andy Reid's legacy is on the line in Super Bowl LIV

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What does Super Bowl LIV mean for Reid's legacy? (1:51)

Pat McAfee and Marcus Spears weigh in on the importance of Super Bowl LIV for Andy Reid and his legacy. (1:51)

AVENTURA, Fla. -- Hang around the Kansas City Chiefs as they prepare for Super Bowl LIV and it's easy to get the feeling players and coaches want a victory for coach Andy Reid more than the head coach wants one for himself.

"Nobody deserves it more than Andy," longtime special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "He's such a great coach to not have a Super Bowl win under his belt. This would be huge. I don't know if I'd stop crying with him. I'd probably hug him forever. I'm just so proud of what he's done and everything he's done in his career. He needs that."

Several Chiefs players, including tight end Travis Kelce, donned Hawaiian shirts for the flight from Kansas City to Miami for the Super Bowl. Reid himself was wearing a suit but favors the Hawaiian style during casual times.

The tribute by the players is an illustration of what they think of Reid and how much they'd like to win Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers (6:30 p.m. ET, Fox).

"Just getting him [to the Super Bowl] isn't the goal," Kelce said. "Winning this thing for him is."

Reid is arguably the most accomplished coach in NFL history without a Lombardi trophy to his credit. He is sixth in all-time wins with 221. Three of the coaches ahead of him worked during the Super Bowl era and won at least two titles. The other two coached before the Super Bowl era but won multiple NFL championships.

Then there's Reid. He coached the Philadelphia Eagles, who lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. On Sunday, Reid will make his Super Bowl return after a 15-year absence.

Reid, the seventh coach to take multiple teams to the Super Bowl, insisted recently the gaping hole in his career accomplishments doesn't keep him up at night.

"Life's bigger than that," the 61-year-old said. "That doesn't tell you I don't want to win. This is America. I'm in it to win. That's what we do. I don't want that to be slighted. But I also understand the perspective of life. Maybe it's because of my age. That doesn't mean I'm not going to work hard and coach hard and do all of those things and come in swinging to the best of my ability. But I'm not going to tell you there aren't other things in life. I understand that, too.

"I think more of the players than I sit here thinking about myself. That's not where I go."

Those close to him, but not connected to the Chiefs, say not to be fooled.

"He understands what this would mean for his career," said Louis Riddick, the ESPN NFL analyst who worked with Reid for five seasons in the Eagles' personnel department. "You don't coach and dedicate yourself in the manner in which he has because it's fun. You do it because you're Type A competitive. You don't get to this point where he's gotten to in his profession if you didn't care about legacy. That's important to him. He wants that on his wall.

"He's never going to let you in on just how important it is. He's just not that guy who's going to give you that sound bite interview where he says, 'Man, this means everything to me!' But that competitiveness burns in him. I've seen it in different areas and different ways. I know it exists. You don't get to where he is without it."

There seems to be little question Reid needs a Super Bowl victory to strengthen his eventual candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only one coach in the Super Bowl era failed to win a league championship but still make the Hall. Buffalo's Marv Levy took the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls and lost them all.

"Four in a row is an incredible feat and that's why [Levy] is in," longtime Hall of Fame selector Rick Gosselin said. "Reid doesn't have a championship. I think he's got to win a championship."

Even if Reid wins one, he's not a sure thing. There are four coaches -- Tom Coughlin (Giants), Tom Flores (Raiders), George Seifert (49ers) and Mike Shanahan (Broncos) -- with two Super Bowl wins who aren't in the Hall of Fame.

The recent election of former Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher, who won one Super Bowl with the Steelers, could help Reid. Cowher had a .623 winning percentage in the regular season, with eight division championship teams in 15 years. He was 1-1 in the Super Bowl.

Reid has a .618 winning percentage in the regular season with 10 division titles in 21 seasons. He's 0-1 in the Super Bowl.

"If Bill Cowher is in, Andy Reid has a good case," Gosselin said. "I think he compares favorably with Cowher. But there are a number of coaches who have won twice and aren't in so it's mandatory that he wins at least one."

If it's true Reid cares more about his legacy than he lets on publicly, it's equally true he enjoys coaching for more than game days. Each week during the season, Reid says he's "looking forward to the challenge" of facing the upcoming opponent, his way of saying he's eagerly anticipating matching wits with the opposing coaching staff.

He gave up personnel duties he had with the Eagles when he came to the Chiefs. He told team chairman Clark Hunt he wanted more time to teach his players and be an offensive innovator than to be a personnel evaluator.

It's not as if Reid would like to be a coach even if they didn't keep score. But he enjoys more than just the competition.

"That's why so many of these great coaches have not been able to coach for as long as he has or been as fresh and driven as he has been," said Joe Banner, who was the Eagles' president for most of Reid's time in Philadelphia (1999-2012).

"I don't think Andy is tracking public opinion. I don't think he's moved by public opinion and I don't think any choice or decision he's ever made in his life was driven by public opinion. In the eyes of some, he probably needs to win a Super Bowl to be considered among the best. That's not what drives him but it would be gratifying to him."

That's not to say winning isn't important to Reid. He took the loss to the Patriots in last season's AFC Championship Game hard. Even after beating the Tennessee Titans in this season's AFC title game, Reid made reference to Dee Ford's offside penalty late in the fourth quarter of that loss against New England. The penalty nullified an interception that would have clinched a Chiefs victory, and Reid reminded everyone by saying his team missed back-to-back Super Bowl appearances by four inches.

That's about how far Ford lined up offside.

"In all the years I worked with Andy, including the really disappointing ends to some seasons, I never saw him or heard him sound like a particular game really took a toll on him because he's incredibly resilient," Banner said. "But after that game last year was the first time I ever had an interaction with him where I felt like this hit him a little bit harder than these other losses.

"He's always positive, always has a good energy, the way he carries himself and thinks and talks. That was one of the rare times and maybe the only time on a football-related issue where I had a conversation with him and I felt like he's human and it was really hard for him to take."